Monday, July 17, 2006
GOD Caruthers, the heat and the flies!!! (And those DAMNED native drums). LOL - well, that's how it feels here, it is REALLY hot (although my mate Ed in Utah poo-poohs our temperatures, regularly sending me HIS weather forecast, which has temp's akin to Hades!).
Yesterday I had a day off from walking, and went to the great Ashbourne Highland Gathering.
This event, in its 22nd year, is a dream if you like all things Scottish. If you don't, well I suppose it would be a nightmare. Me? I fell in love with the skirl of the pipes when I walked the coast to coast walk, and heard a lone piper playing in the Ennerdale forest. To me, it sounded ethereal, romantic, drawing and sombre. It REALLY fitted the scene. I was told later by my B&B hostess that he played there regularly because his wife HATED the pipes, and wouldn't let him play near the house! (Damned sassenachs!).
The day at Ashbourne starts around 10:00AM, and there are dances, highland games (watched over by none other than mr Geoff Capes, our very own strong man (retired). Geoff holds the record for tossing the stone, which is a bit like putting the shot, but a more 'pure' version, using a real stone. The record has stood for a very impressive TWENTY TWO years!!!! Now, when you think how many really strong men there have been in recent years, particularly the Scandinavians, that is some record!).
The day progresses with all sorts of side shows, from jugglers to magicians, folk bands to fairgounds, and ALL in a village fete setting. If you're within striking distance of Ashbourne, the date for the 2007 show is SUNDAY 15TH JULY 2007. WELL worth a visit. Put it in your diary.
The best, though, is saved until last. ALL the bands, from grade three up to grade one (genuflect here) mass on the parade ground, play before the crowd and the Chieftain Then, en masse, they proudly march through the streets of Ashbourne (closed off) and play their hearts out! God, the hairs on my arms are standing up now just THINKING about it! Anyway, there's a very old pub in the town centre called; 'The Green Man and Blacks Head' (not very PC, I admit, but I really care more for history than PC), and the pipe majors (they're the ones who twirl the fancy chrome sticks at the front of the bands) try to THROW their batons OVER the pub sign, which goes from one side of the street to the other, about the height of the first floor windows. If they successfully throw it over AND manage to catch it, they win a huge bottle of Scotch whisky. Those that dare NOT to 'have a go' are heartliy booed by the huge crowd that gathers to watch the specatacle!
It all ends around 7:00PM, and a damn good day was had by all.
Countdown to cruise - THIRTEEN sleeps!!!! :-)